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Monarch Butterfly Migration Update: March 26, 2004

Today's Report Includes:

Watching and Waiting in Texas
Where are the monarchs? There’s been no sign yet of a big wave moving into Texas from Mexico. The butterflies certainly seem late! At this time last year, there had been 51 sightings from Texas. Only 8 have been reported in March this spring.

Let's look more closely. What similarities and differences do you notice between this year and last? Describe each map in writing:

March 28
March 26

Predicting the Route of the Monarch’s Spring Migration
Are you keeping track of the states and provinces the monarchs have reached? Predict where you think they'll arrive next and record the results to date:

Remember to Ask: How Are the Data Collected?
In scientific research, scientists set standards (protocols) for how they make observations, measurements, and otherwise collect data. This provides uniformity so their investigations are "fair." If scientists fail to do so, they can't make accurate comparisons or generalizations, can't have confidence in their results, and other scientists can't repeat the study.

Think about the methods of our spring migration study, and describe them carefully. All spring, keep questions about methods in mind as you interpret the results. Who is involved? Exactly what they are doing? And,

Challenge Question #12
“What variables does Journey North need to control in order for this to be a valid experiment?”

(To respond to this question, please follow the instructions below.)

International Monarch Meeting in Mexico This Week

The World Wildlife Fund is coordinating this week’s "Monarch Butterfly Regional Forum" to bring together government officials, scientists and conservationists from the international, national, state and local levels. They'll work together to discuss issues such as:

  • Tourism
  • Economic Development Projects
  • Environmental Education
  • Protected Area Management
  • Scientific Research
  • Forest Protection and Law Enforcement
  • Land Use Planning
  • Forest Inventory

You can download a Power Point presentation in English or Spanish and learn about the goals of the meeting at the Monarch Butterfly Regional Forum website.

Visiting the Sanctuaries With Grandfather Brower
What’s it like to visit the monarch’s winter refuge with a famous scientist? Thanks to Alex White for sharing the story about his recent trip to Mexico with his grandfather, Dr. Lincoln Brower. Alex produced a slide show, and today we have the first of three installments:

“Well, I don't know about you,” beings Alex, “but I have never seen anything as amazing as flying into Mexico City.”

In today’s story, Alex takes his first hike up the mountain to see the butterflies. There were “so many of them you could hear their wings beating together, synchronized, almost like music.” There were also butterflies on the forest floor. “According to my grandfather, Professor Lincoln Brower, the number of dead and moribund butterflies was about average. (The word moribund means 'in a dying state,' or 'about to die.' I too learned the meaning of this word on my trip.)"

Symbolic Monarchs Fly North!
Thousands of butterflies took an overnight flight to Minnesota a few days ago, all the way from Mexico. In Minnesota we'll prepare your symbolic butterflies for the final leg of their journey. Here’s their migration schedule:

April: Journey North staff spends the month in Minnesota packing your return envelopes.

May: Symbolic Monarchs are mailed from Minnesota. We'll do our best to have the butterflies back to you by:

May 5 (cinco de mayo): Symbolic Monarch Homecoming

The Symbolic Migration at Escuela los Trojes

Thanks to Dr. Jim Edson for this photo of children at Escuela los Trojes in the sanctuary region with their symbolic butterflies. Children from this school take good care of the Symbolic Monarchs every year. Here's a greeting from their teacher and four video clips of their school that were taken during last year’s visit:

My Monarch Habitat in...Discussion of CQ# 11
Amazing sleuthing by a home school student in Houston, Texas led to the discovery of the location of last week’s mystery monarch habitat...

"I think this habitat is in Iowa. First, we looked at what states were on Mississippi River. We went through previous years' migration maps and found out what places along the Mississippi usually got their butterflies in May. We narrowed it down to Iowa and Missouri. Then we tried various approaches to figure out the mileage and decided we couldn't figure it out that way -- they were too close. Then we searched the internet for snowfall reports in March and determined from that that Iowa must be the state since they had a big snowfall on March 16th and some places in Iowa near Mississippi got 4 inches."

The exact location: Notre Dame Elementary School in Burlington, Iowa. Special thanks to Ms. Sharon Sommerfelt for sharing the photo of the snow-covered butterfly garden there! Watch for another habitat challenge next week.

How to Respond to Today's Challenge Question:

1. Address an e-mail message to:
2. In the Subject Line of your message write: Challenge Question #12
3. In the body of your message, answer the question above.

The Next Monarch Butterfly Migration Update Will Be Posted on April 2, 2004

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